Any urban or suburban area in America is never more than a single headline away from anarchy. As recent events have shown, the cultural divide in our United States serves as a catalyst for social misbehavior ranging from civil disobedience to outright mayhem. When extreme activists pour kerosene on the campfire and neighborhoods start to burn, there is also a monotonously reliable phenomenon that plays out again and again: Unarmed citizens are consistently victimized while armed citizens tend to prevail.
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There are factors at play in urban survival unique to this environment. The obvious best option, if circumstances allow and nothing irreplaceable is left behind, is to flee until the dust settles and let FEMA buy you a new home or business. I have a relative who escaped her upscale New Orleans home after Hurricane Katrina literally as the armed mob rounded the corner onto her street. If circumstances demand that you must stay put, however, a little preparation can make a huge difference.
It seems that in every recent example of civil unrest, pictures emerge of isolated, armed civilians standing guard over their businesses and property. In some cases, aerial views taken after the fires have abated serve as a graphic depiction of which citizens exercised their Second Amendment rights and which did not. The unarmed businesses are burned to their foundations while the armed sort remain intact to do business another day.
Law enforcement will likely be unable to help. In some high-profile cases, urban leadership even restrains law enforcement in a flawed effort to calm the situation. While this approach does nothing more than lend a movement ill-deserved legitimacy, it also obviously leaves law-abiding citizens on their own. As with most things, the key to success is preparation.
In circumstances of civil unrest, there is no better tool with which to defend home and hearth than a firearm. While rivers of ink have been spilt arguing the salient benefits of this design over that, the reality of the matter is that a reliable AR or AK rifle need not be expensive to be effective.
Nowadays a low-end black rifle can be had at a reasonable price, and a half dozen loaded magazines will keep in storage longer than you will. Store it all with a proper handgun and spare magazines in a secure location where little fingers cannot get to them, and train to the point where you feel comfortable with all of it. A $2,000 black rifle that you haven’t touched since you brought it home from the gun store is nothing but a liability. While there is no true substitute for live-fire training, there is a wide variety of completely safe firearms training systems that can be used within the confines of your home to help keep your self-defense skills sharp between trips to the range.
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Body armor is a combat multiplier and the current sordid state of the world has opened up a thriving market for such gear. Options are available for adults, kids and even pets, all at reasonable prices. With a little forethought, a plate carrier outfitted with Level III plates and magazine carriers can be grabbed and donned in moments during a crisis. Many of the most dangerous places in America have the most restrictions on firearms, ammunition capacity and even body armor ownership, so research the subject carefully in advance lest you run afoul of all those laws that only ever seem to affect the law-abiding.
If you choose to stay and defend your home and property, you probably won’t be venturing outside very often. Consistently make sure your emergency closet is stocked with the essentials needed to wait out the war in the streets. This includes food, water, backup power and medical supplies, and any specialty items for pets or the elderly should always be on hand. If you think you’ll try to leave before the crisis worsens, have a 72-hour bag packed for yourself and every member of your family. Compact and portable versions of the previously mentioned items should be included, as well as appropriate clothing and footwear for the season and the specific terrain. Hopefully, you won’t need to be gone more than a few days before returning home.
If you choose to stay behind and defend your stuff, you need to appreciate the incredible legal burden you will be shouldering. You will be held responsible for every round of ammunition you expend, every piece of gear you accumulate and every word you utter in any potentially violent exchange. Whatever happens during the incident will likely be captured on video and stored someplace in perpetuity.
It is sordid commentary indeed that law-abiding Americans would have to fear both a rampaging mob and our own legal system, but that nonetheless remains the case. Make a dispassionate assessment of your circumstances and prepare accordingly. In so doing, when a violent mob comes down the street, you will not be caught unawares.
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This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Spring 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.